Current projects

fög applies all its fundamental research funding on the basis of its research projects.

These funds derive from national and international research programs, research partnerships, research sponsorship by the university, and from the fög Foundation. fög uses these funds both to create long-term research positions, which facilitate the accumulation of knowledge, and to encourage newcomers to the field.

Communication-event analysis

This project pursues the systematic, inductive observation of mediated public communication on the basis of selected leading Swiss media. Communication events are recorded by observing series of news articles and editorials. The most significant communication events then form, in line with their reporting volume, the agenda of the Swiss media arena.

The theoretical background is based on the notion that society only becomes visible via networks of public communication and that these contribute to constructing our social reality. The media play a dual role here: as interpreters and producers of the world of events made accessible by communication. Communication events are discursive arguments whose comparative contents reveal socially significant interest structures.

Communication events represent raw material for research into the public memory and can be selected and further analyzed on the basis of various criteria. They are arranged systematically with respect to the factual dimension (politics, the economy, culture and human interest) and the spatial dimension (Switzerland, Europe, America, Asia, etc.). Beyond this, special selection criteria (war and conflict communication, risk communication, scandals, political fields, economic sectors, etc.) may be used to monitor communication events.

Financial center analysis

Research partnerships: Swiss Bankers Association, cantonal banks

A country’s reputation is intimately linked to the perception of its central institutions, organizations and elites on the one hand and its characteristic values and culture on the other hand. Such perception patterns are constituted principally via the medium of public communication. Public coverage of these central institutions, agents and values consolidates these perception patterns to produce a national reputation with which a country is confronted at home and abroad. More than almost any other country, Switzerland is perceived to a high degree via its banks and financial institutions. The reputation of the Swiss financial center at home and abroad not only characterizes the reputation of Switzerland as a country, but also extends or limits the scope of action of Swiss companies and politics in and with other countries.

Financial center analysis consequently focuses on monitoring the synchronic reputation constitution and diachronic reputation dynamics of Switzerland on the basis of public communication about the Swiss financial center, its banks and bank secrecy. This primarily involves determining the reputation patterns for the study object “the Swiss financial center” and their implications for the reputation of Switzerland and its associated scope of action in domestic and international contexts.

Growing intimacy of the public sphere

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (2015-2017)

Typically, the assumed increase of intimacy in the public sphere is analyzed regarding few indicators such as the portrayal of private and intimate details about politician’s lives by commercialized news media. In a theoretical perspective, however, this growing intimacy means much more. We assume that the “classical” modern triad of world interpretation (“Welterfahrung”) in modern societies is increasingly challenged by a “moralistic-emotional triad.”

The classical triad was characterized by a world interpretation in the context of intense, close relations in a (bourgeois) intimate sphere, by a cognitive-rationalistic world interpretation in the public sphere and by trust in systems and institutions. These forms of world interpretation are challenged in “post” or “late” modernity by extensive relations, a moralistic-emotional coding of the world and affective trust in persons. In our project, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, we examine why and in which ways an emotional interpretation of the world has come to shape (and alter) not only the intimate sphere but also the public sphere.

First, it examines to what extent both the intimate sphere and the public sphere change when individuals share intimate aspects of their life and when they share news (produced by journalistic organizations) in social networks.

Second, it examines to what extent moralistic-emotional issues and communication styles diffuse into public communication at the expense of cognitive-normative debate, thus weakening deliberation

Third, it examines to what extent trust in institutions and roles is being replaced with a trust in persons, especially because reputation is increasingly built on the basis of moralistic-emotional assessments instead of cognitive-normative ones.

The goal of the project is to synthesize these phenomena, explain them and examine them empirically by focusing on Switzerland since the 1960s. The funded SNF project empirically captures these phenomena through qualitative interviews with users and non-users of social networks, through content analyses of Swiss newspapers from the 1960s to the present focusing on direct-democratic referenda, and through case studies of current “shitstorms” focusing on the interplay of social networks and journalistic news.

Monitor on public votes: analyses of media coverage in Switzerland

Sponsored: self-financed

For the Swiss political system, it is in elections periods and even more in periods of public votes (referenda, initiatives) where one needs to look at the importance of a functioning public sphere for democratic self-regulation. Public sphere increasingly means mass-mediated public communication.

Thus, media coverage about public votes has to be of high quality in order to help citizens build informed opinions and rationalize their vote. In their coverage, media are expected to provide a forum for a wide spectrum of relevant political actors and their arguments, foster a rational debate and offer context and explanations. All this makes media coverage about public votes an excellent field of study to examine whether and how the current fundamental change in the Swiss media system affects the quality of news coverage.

So far, there has been no monitoring of media coverage about public votes, even though public votes are extremely important: on the national level alone, citizens cast their vote on usually more than ten different proposals. In our project, we try to fill this gap by implementing a monitor which captures systematically news coverage about public votes, comparing the different votes and comparing different media types and media outlets. This monitor explicitly addresses all those interested in this topic. This is why the monitor is published continuously on our website, i.e. during the debates about upcoming votes. .

Yearbook Quality of the Media

Sponsored by: the fög Foundation

The aim of the Yearbook is to improve awareness for the quality of the media.

It constitutes a resource for media professionals and actors from the worlds of politics and the economy, the academia and all interested parties who are concerned with the development of the media and their contents.

The Yearbook originated from the insight that the quality of a democracy depends on the quality of its mediated public sphere. The Yearbook gives the public a yardstick for the kind of journalism to which it wishes to be exposed, the media makers gain a yardstick as to what kind of journalism they wish to produce and assume responsibility for, and politics gains an insight into the development of the media industry and the resources available to factual journalism in Switzerland. Find out more

Reputation monitor

Sponsored by: Self-financed

The reputation monitor analyses the logic and dynamics of the reputation constitution of key sectors of the Swiss financial and real economies. These are then operationalized on the basis of the aggregated resonance and reputation values of the most important companies in each respective sector as reflected in mediated public communication.

The study has run since July 2007 and the results are published quarterly on our website.

Analyzed companies:

Construction: Arbonia Forster Group, Holcim, Implenia, Sika.

Chemicals/Pharmaceuticals: Clariant, Novartis, Roche, Syngenta.

Retail trade: Coop, Migros, Manor.

Energy: Alpiq, Axpo, BKW.

Banks: Credit Suisse, Migrosbank, Postfinance, Raiffeisen, UBS, ZKB.

Machine construction: ABB, Georg Fischer, OC Oerlikon, Schindler.

Luxury goods: Richemont, Rolex, Swatch.

Media: Publigroupe, Ringier, SRG, Tamedia.

Food: Barry Callebaut, Lindt und Sprüngli, Nestlé.

Telecoms: Cablecom, Orange, Sunrise, Swisscom.

Insurance: Axa, Baloîse, Swiss Life, Swiss Re, Zurich.

Financial Services: Ernst and Young, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Analyzed key and business media

10 vor 10, Bilanz, Blick, Finanz und Wirtschaft, Handelszeitung, Le Temps, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, NZZ am Sonntag, SonntagsBlick, Sonntagszeitung, Tages-Anzeiger, Tagesschau, Weltwoche, Wochenzeitung.

Social and health-policy analyses

Research partnerships: SUVA, Interparma, Roche, Helsana

The “Social and health-policy analyses” project covers the ongoing inductive and deductive monitoring of communication events relating to social and health policies.

The aim is to record regular patterns in the career and diffusion opportunities of corresponding communication dynamics in the Swiss media arena as well as of the reputation effects of health-policy communication events on central actors in politics and civil society.

The study shows that social and health-policy communication events such as the KVG amendment and potential disease threats to Switzerland are among the most frequently discussed communication events in the Swiss media arena, regularly carry a marked moral charge and have a correspondingly high impact on reputation.

Telecoms analysis

Research partnership: upc cablecom

The project analyzes the communication and reputation dynamics of the telecoms sector in an international comparison.

General patterns of the reputation constitution of companies and trends specific to the telecom sector are identified. For this purpose, reputation profiles are set up for key companies of the telecom sector and compared with each other.

The telecommunications sector promises to yield differentiating insights into the reputation constitution of economic organizations, especially in a dual respect.

In view of the special importance that this sector enjoys in many countries as a former state-organized infrastructure sector, the project can compare the reputation constitution of private companies with that of semi-public companies and former monopoly operations and hence clarify the significance of fundamental social-policy issues such as liberalization, privatization and the basic provision of public services for the reputation constitution of companies.

In view of the rapid structural transformation of this sector, the reputation dynamics of established market actors can also be particularly usefully compared with those of ambitious newcomers. Reporting on products plays an important role in this comparison. There are few comparable sectors in which the effect of product image on the reputation constitution of companies can be analyzed in such a targeted way.